How to dress… Expecting in the 50s

Hello there,

Being pregnant was a wonderful time for me and I did enjoy wearing original 1950s maternity clothes. I did some research aboout maternity fashion in the 50s (sources from Internet and books I read) that I wanted to share on my blog. Hope you like it!


The maternity fashion through the decade had a slow evolution. Indeed, before the 50s, getting pregnant was a synomyme for being stuck at home as soon as the pregnancy was noticable. So, during this time an expecting mother was wearing an ample house dress or wrap dress to stay at home.

In the 1950s, the wrap dress was still a comfortable maternity wear. But a new item appeared in the maternity fashion : the two-piece separates.

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It was, now, more acceptable for an expecting lady to be out of the house and being seen during the second and third trimester. Then, the fashion adopted a new « loose » style for maternity clothes to fit the new social acceptance.

The most popular style was a loose smock top covering the bump with a pencil skirt. The blouse or smock top could be buttoned or plain. The button one is also handy to wear during the nursing stage, making easy breastfeeding. The triangle-like shape of the blouse allows to wear it from the early stage of the pregnancy to the last.

Also available was a maternity shirt, styled like a mens shirt with the triangle shape that allows the bump to grow. This one could be worn by itself or under a smock top for a very elegant silhouette and perfect for a chilly day.


About the bottom, the full-circled skirt was an option and designed to follow the shape of a growing belly with a front line an inch or two longer than the back. But as we can see on the catalog pages bellow, the pencil skirt was the most fashionable. Also, trousers, capri pants even shorts for summer were available.


Skirts or trousers were all made in the same two ways : the egg cut or the zip waistband. The egg cut was a simple cut in the trouser / skirt in the shape of an egg to allow the belly to grow. The zip band was more « well-made », each side of the waistband got a zip that allow to extend the waist.

All this exemples of clothes could be buy on store or sew at home with lots of patterns available.


Now, if the mother-to-be had a smaller budget, here some tips from a 1948 book « Housewife Baby Book » in the chapter « How to dress during pregnancy »:

« The clothing problem during pregnancy is one which should be tackled in good time and with the intention of looking as attractive as possible right to the very end. »

Well, this can sound a bit harsh when you know how crappy you can feel when you are expecting, but let’s take it in a positive way : pregnant, pretty and ready to enjoy!

The book keeps going :

« the fundamental principal behind effective dressing during pregnancy is looseness: it is the tight skirt, blouse or coat which draws attention to your figure. » The writer add clothes should be loose but no need to be too loose neither.

And my very favourite part :

« A young wife, expecting her first infant, wants to be able to accompany her husband to parties and on holidays until the last moment. No husband will expect his wife in these circumstances to look as if she had no thoughts of ever of becoming a mother, but neither does he wants her to look as if she were going to give birth to triplets almost any minute. »

Thank you to the understanding 1950s husband! lol

The author concludes with :

« A reasonable compromise should earnestly be sought, and is generally fairly easy to find ».

Most of time,I did try to follow this good pieces of advices during my pregnancy, but I confess having days in pyjama, in my bed, watching Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple!!!

Later in the chapter, she gives pratical advices about how to dress in an economical way :

« Brassière : It is really important to have at least two well-cut maternity brassières. Shoulder-straps should be an inch wide, and set at such an angle that the brassière really supports the breasts and lifts them up ».

I found mine (two as adviced) at M&S. There are not made for maternity especially but do the job very well and are really comfortable. And of course, I like their old-fashion design.

Another one about a coat :

« A plain, loose swagger coat will carry you through the entire period of pregnancy. »

I’ve been lucky to find a vintage swagger coat in a charity shop during my first trimester.

Also, amazing dresses which can be worn during being pregnant or not were in the fashion. The tent-like shape dress that you can wear loose when expecting and with a belt marking the waist when not pregnant or after the confinement. Smart, isn’t it?


Bref! Through this post, I simply share with you what I read and my very own research about 1950s maternity fashion. I hope, you enjoy this and, please, share with me your own experience in comments!

Vintagely yours,

Mademoiselle Monoï